10 Books to Help You Talk to Your Younger Kids About Race
Talking to your kids about race is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. And I’m not talking about this “we don’t see color” shit. Listen: YOU NEED TO SEE COLOR. You cannot ignore that people are different. Or that they’re treated differently because of the color of their skin. You are doing your children an enormous disservice if you ignore race in the hope that you will create some sort of Kumbaya generation. We need to talk about it, from the time our kids are very little. Teaching kids to acknowledge and celebrate difference (and acknowledge their own privilege), but not judge on those differences is a lesson we all need to embrace. These books can help.
Books about race for younger kiddos should speak to them on their level.
1. Sesame Street is a universal language for kids, right?
We’re Different, We’re the Same breaks down the differences and similarities of humans for toddlers. This is a great starter book for explaining why we all look different, and why that’s OK.
2. The story of Cesar Chavez is an excellent lesson in labor and civil rights.
3. This picture book tells a moving story about the intersection of cultures.
Crossing Bok Chitto by Tim Tingle is an original story about the intersection between Native Americans and African Americans. It’s illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridges, a Cherokee artist.
4. Teach your kids about all the beautiful shades of brown as told through the eyes of a 7-year-old girl.
Lena wants to draw a picture of herself in The Colors of Us, and learns that brown comes in many different shades. Karen Katz wrote the book for her daughter Lena, whom Katz and her husband adopted from Guatemala.
5. The story of Sylvia Mendez and her family is a wonderful precursor to Brown vs Board of Education.
Nearly 10 years before the landmark case that ended segregation in schools, Sylvia Mendez and her family fought to desegregate schools in California. Separate is Never Equal is their story.
6. Use this ABC board book to teach your kids about activism!
A is for Activist is perfect for parents who want their kids to grow up in a progressive world, unapologetic about standing up for the rights of the marginalized.
7. Ruby Bridge’s story is one all kids need to know.
In 1960, Ruby Bridges braved hordes of angry parents when she attended an all-white school in New Orleans. The Story of Ruby Bridges is a tale of unimaginable bravery and endearing hope.
8. Another simple yet powerful picture book for young kids.
The Skin You Live In is a lively story about acceptance, friendship, and diversity that will be easy for younger kids to understand.
9. Yet another book that is incredibly timely, given the current state of affairs.
In 1942, Fred Korematsu was jailed for resisting against the government’s internment of Japanese Americans in this country. Fred Korematsu Speaks UpÂ tells his powerful story.
10. This book explains the power of family heritage, and being proud of who you are and where you come from.
A young girl’s questions about her grandmother’s braided hair and colorful clothes set the stage for a story about being forced to hide who you are in When We Were Alone.
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